Revolutionary Ride: On the Road in Search of the Real Iran is probably one of the best travel adventure books I’ve read this last year, and certainly one of the most original ones.
The author, Lois Pryce, has already published two books about her motorcycle-propelled adventures in Africa and Latin America, and now she took on one of the most closed-off and sinister-sounding countries on earth: namely, Iran.
Here’s what the official blurb says:
‘In 2011, at the height of tension between the British and Iranian governments, travel writer Lois Pryce found a note left on her motorcycle outside the Iranian Embassy in London:
… I wish that you will visit Iran so you will see for yourself about my country. WE ARE NOT TERRORISTS!!! Please come to my city, Shiraz. It is very famous as the friendliest city in Iran, it is the city of poetry and gardens and wine!!!
Your Persian friend,
Intrigued, Lois decides to ignore the official warnings against travel (and the warnings of her friends and family) and sets off alone on a 3,000 mile ride from Tabriz to Shiraz, to try to uncover the heart of this most complex and incongruous country’.
This fabulous adventure is relayed in vigorous prose with a healthy dash of humour, so that after a few chapters you start to feel as if your veins are flowing with bubbly champagne.
Even more peculiar, the centre of the roundabout featured a vast and poorly executed plaster sculpture of an eagle in flight, a clumsy affair that combined brash American imperialism with the clunky Soviet look of state-sponsored art. Iran liked to pride itself on being ‘neither East nor West’, but I was pretty certain that this overblown garden ornament was not quite what Khomeini had had in mind when he coined his famous statement. Parked under the eagle’s outstretched wing and wondering what kind of unholy alliance of local authority funding and dictator-chic designer had come up with this monstrosity, I spied the first human I had seen in hours…
I also loved the cast of characters Pryce described – a US-educated Iranian lady with a career in luxury brand management, a courteous veteran of the Imposed War, a group of corrupt secret police cronies, a defiant schoolgirl, a poetry-loving taxi driver of Shiraz. And, as someone dwelling in a less-than-developed country myself, I liked the fact that the author didn’t look at Iran through rose-tinted glasses either, and documented the strives and motives of those wishing to get out very clearly.
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